Calendar

June 12 -- Zilker Park Blues on the Green, featuring the Wheeler Brothers with the Whiskey Sisters.
Check out this website for great music at Zilker Park all summer long!

Keeping Pace with Neighborhood Changes

Booming Original Austin Neighborhood Projects Look to Activate Numerous Properties


Roughly four years since the peak of the nation's financial and housing market collapse, Austin is leading the nation in population growth and an associated surge in new commercial and residential sector projects. Across Austin, which grows on average by about 70 people per day, there are intense pockets of development activity.

Strong development activity is taking place on South Lamar, Riverside, near Rainey Street, along the northern shores of Lady Bird Lake and near where the Waller Creek development project will likely transform that corridor. And, of course, not to be outdone in sheer scope and investment, the University of Texas Regents are moving forward on a proposed $334M development as part of the 
Dell Medical School in a large area south of MLK near Interstate 35.

Development activity within the Original Austin Neighborhood slowed considerably after the 2008 economic collapse after seeing strong levels of activity between 2005-2007 with projects such as the 360, Spring and Austin City Lofts apartment and condo projects. Cirrus Logic's new building was the main focal point of construction during the past two years.
 
Now, at least a half dozen major projects are underway, and will surely change the landscape of the neighborhood with a variety of commercial, residential and mixed-use developments.

Among the more noticeable projects:

  • Construction workers are fast at work on the long-awaited 7 Rio project on 7th and Rio Grande. The 24-story building will bring about 221 multi-family rental units.
  • A few blocks south at 5th and San Antonio, workers are busily developing a 13 story, 195,000 square feet office project to be anchored by IBC Bank.
  • Developer Nate Paul will soon open Rio, two-story development perched above the former landmark Katz's Delicatessan. Rio management describes the second floor as having a relaxed lounge atmosphere, while a third-story area goes for a little more upscale Miami/Vegas styling. It's unique offering includes a pool on the third floor.
  • Endeavor's 36-story 311 Bowie project will expand residential availability by adding approximately 350+ apartment units.
  • Over on Lamar Blvd. by 4th Street, construction is under way on a multi-story project that will be home to Fidelity Investments and Schlosser Development's headquarters. Also on Lamar, between 7th and 8th Streets, is a new four-story complex with first-story retail and additional parking for retailers such as Book People, REI and Anthropologie.
  • Farther north near 15th Street and Nueces, Wells Fargo demolished its drive-thru banking facility and is developing a larger, new banking center for drop-in and drive-through business.
  • Construction of the city's new 200,000 square-foot Public Library is finally under way. Voters approved $60M in bonds in 2006, and city leaders have been working since that time to secure funds for the building's final price tag, which is closer to $120M.
  • The first phase of Trammell Crow’s $500 million-plus  Green Water Treatment Plant may start soon.  As comprehensively described in Jude Galligan’s Downtown Austin Blog, a 38 story apartment tower is the first of the expected developments. We wish the developer and all involved the best of luck in getting this massive and very important project started.

Development is taking place all across the Original Austin Neighborhood! Do you think all of the activity is good news for the neighborhood or does it concern you? Tell us what you think in this short survey! (we'll post responses in the next newsletter)

(SCROLL DOWN! THERE'S MORE NEWS!)

The Big Picture

A look at master planning items & government activities
 
Austin Community College (ACC) is in the midst of transformation and renewal. With plans under way for several bond propositions on the November 2013 ballot, ACC is pursuing several projects that could total approximately $400M. The two biggest projects:

(1) Repurposing the former Highland Mall, estimated cost of $164M.
(2) Renovation of the Rio Grande campus main building (old Austin High School), estimated cost of $49M.With 10 campuses and current enrollment of 42,000, ACC's enrollment is expected to surpass UT-Austin by 2020. OANA is represented on the ACC Rio Grande Campus Advisory Committee by Board member Albert Stowell, and OANA President Ted Siff serves on the Bond Advisory Committee.
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You've no doubt heard of Google plans to invest heavily in bringing it's high-capcity Google Fiber internet and broadband television services to the Austin area. If you would ilke to monitor progress or receive updates on the project, register here.

Hot Spots

New & Exciting Openings and Events

Benji's Cantina celebrated its grand opening on May 24. Located at 6th Street and West Avenue across from Cirrus Logic, Benji's offers a Mexican and seafood-inspired menu. 


Construction activity is taking place across the neighborhood: (far left) construction for 311 Bowie is under way behind the Tiniest Bar in Texas on 5th Street. (top) Construction on the 7 Rio project and (far right) an artist rendering of the project. (middle right) Rio will be a new bar/lounge on West 6th Street and (middle left) construction activity is taking place along Lamar Blvd near Book People for additional parking capacity and ground-level retail.

Social Order

Police, Fire & Public Health & Safety
 
After closing for renovations last May, manyf improvements have been made to historic Wooldridge Square, which is targeting a grand re-opening on Sept. 13. New items include including an irrigation system, turf grass and trees. Still planned are new park furniture, improved lighting and utility hookups for a potential vendor in the Northwest corner of the park (a coffee and light food concession is targeted). Improved on-going maintenance and security are being coordinated and we look forward to greater public input and planning in the fall.
 
The Friends of Wooldridge Square group is actively working to assist the City Parks Department on this effort and has two big efforts going on where you can help:
(1) bringing new programming partners and activities to the park for the opening weekend and beyond. If interested in helping out, please contact Ann Graham
(2) The park's central feature, the bandstand, was unfortunately ineligible for the funding that helped the rest of the park. Repair and restoration of the 1910 Page Brothers-designed bandstand is estimated to cost $17,000, and funds are being raised through the Austin Parks Foundation or you can contact Michael McGill
 
With the help of our neighborhood, we look forward to a bright future for Wooldridge Square.


Common Ground

A Look at Neighborhood Green & Public Spaces

Having completed its Feasibility Study in May, the Shoal Creek Conservancy (SCC) Feasibility Study has moved from its first phase, a needs and capacity assessment, and into Phase II -- a pledge drive to determine sufficiency of private and non-profit financial support to launch the conservancy.

The report describes the proposed conservancy as having watershed-wide boundaries and lists needs in several categories: flood risk, water quality, public safety, transportation, public order and parks/trees and open space.
 
It also provides summaries of several model conservancies and concludes that a Shoal Creek Conservancy could provide a vision and voice for the Shoal Creek watershed that would help address its needs.

To express interest, email:
shoalcreekconservancy@gmail.com or read more about the conservancy effort.

In Development

Zoning Issues & Related Development Activities

The OANA Board of Directors has been working closely with Cirrus Logic on the company's proposed 90-foot tall extension to its parking garage along West Avenue and Shoal Creek that will add additional parking capacity for company workers.

Cirrus has agreed to pursue several items of benefit to the neighborhood, including opening the garage for night time valet services, first-floor public meeting space, and creekside and north-side garage screening. To pursue the garage extension requires a zoning change which must be approved by the Austin City Council, which is scheduled to vote on the project on June 6, 2013.

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